After 35 years earning a living at the interface of technology and commerce, I am now attempting to follow my dreams as a fine art photographer
Background and Professional Experience
Born 18th October 1949 at 02.45 am. Ormskirk, Lancashire.
First schooling at Burscough Methodist Primary School. Football team goalkeeper. Lost one nil in Ormskirk schools final. Then to Ormskirk Grammar School. Good at biology and chemistry so drifted into a biochemistry course at University of Manchester. Three plus three years later emerged as Dr Walter Lewis
Discovery: Didn’t in fact like biochemistry…but still had to earn a living!!
First employer was Glaxo. Isolated a low molecular weight heparin which was taken to trials in patients at Royal Free Hospital, London. In 1981 joined a new company which manufactured a treatment for haemophilia from pig blood. Became board director but still tempted away to join a US operation as head of new manufacturing plant being built in Scotland. After 9 months the company folded – run out of money!
Joined in Welsh Development Agency as manager of new seed capital investment fund. Three years later offered position of first Director of Research Support at University of Leeds. In 1997 set up a consultancy unit to promote university research to the consumer products industry. The activity gradually took over working life and became an expert in consumer products and their packaging –listed in Packaging News
for three years running as one of top 50 most influential people in UK packaging!!
Discovery : Life is nearly over, need to settle down and do something worthwhile.
Finished 'work' and enrolled on an MA course in photography at Sunderland University. Awarded the Masters degree – with distinction – in November 2012
(* Click here for 'What is Ecocriticism?'
My interest in photography has been lifelong, initially as a means of creating holiday mementos, and then as a serious amateur landscape and travel photographer. With the support of the MA course at Sunderland, I am now evolving a practice which aims to create visual narratives which arise from, and which promote, serious reflection on our relationship with the world around us.
Our dizzying contemporary ways of living usually leave little time and space for such issues, yet we would seem to need a radical overhaul of our sensibility to the world and its resources if we are to overcome the enormous sustainability challenges which we currently face. In a culture where resource usage is close to or above finite limits, we must ask ourselves how do we want to live – are we sufficiently sensitive to the world around us.
I thus seek out times and places which offer space for deep reflection. In particular I seek to find a new sensibility which is contemporary yet restores emotional connections back to the earth. In many ways it is a search for contemporary enchantment.
My aim is to find this sensibility, not so much in far away places but from within familiar and close localities. Places which might normally be overlooked as just the backdrop to contemporary living. In many ways my practice can be described as parochial....not in the modern, 'soured' sense of sectarian, insular or bounded, but in the original sense of an intense relationship (with space) through which the world is seen – and felt – anew. A product of the intense concentration on the particular, as reflected in the writing of Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh:
'To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetime's experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width. A gap in hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields – these are as much as man can fully experience'
To this end walking is a critical part of my practice. I walk both with and without my camera and it provides a platform for relating world to self. As such I can equate with the words of John Muir, a Scottish-born American naturalist and pioneer of the modern conservation movement, who noted
'I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for in going out, I found I was really going in'
I also draw much inspiration from the works of the so called new nature writers, be they poets such as Thomas Clarke and Kathleen Jamie, or creators of evocative prose such as Robert MacFarlane and Tim Robinson. (Indeed it is MacFarlane to whom I am indebted for introduction to the above work of Kavanagh and Muir). I am similarly drawn to contemporary philosophies of a vitalist world as for example expounded by Tim Ingold (Professor of Anthropology in Aberdeen) or Jane Bennett (Professor of Political Theory at John Hopkins).
Such writings provide both direct inspiration and the confidence to seek the world anew with narratives which can challenge the value systems of the mainstream contemporary world.
2007 - Gold Medal in FIAP French Digital Tour
2007 - Royal Photographic Society Projected Image Exhibition, London (Group Exhibition)
2008 - Royal Photographic Society International Print Exhibition, London (Group Exhibition)
2008 - Lowepro Award in AA/Sunday Times Landscape Photographer of the Year
2009 - Gold Medal in Trierenberg Circuit, Austria
2010 - New Blood Exhibition
, Sandman Goudie Gallery, South Shields (Group Exhibition)
2011 - Common Ground Exhibition
, Reg Vardy Gallery, Sunderland
2012 - Mimeses North Exhibition/MA Graduation Exhibition
, Priestman Gallery, University of Sunderland
2012 - South Square Salon
, South Square Gallery, Bradford
2013 - Presentation at Trajectories PhotoTalk, White Cloth Gallery, Leeds
2013 - Presentation/Exhibition at Artists Anonymous, enjoyART Studios, Leeds
2013 - Presentation at the ON WALKING
conference, University of Sunderland
2013 - Presentation at the Visualising the Rural
conference at University of Cumbria
2013 - Merge
, Design Centre Gallery, Sunderland (Mimeses North